Hao Wu

It’s now been three months since the Free Hao Wu blog got started, and not unsurprisingly it’s been slowing down as interest wanes and resignation reigns. Watching the inactive site day after day got me thinking: Was it a good idea to draw all this attention to Hao Wu, or would silence have been a more strategic approach? (And I was one of the most aggressive in getting the word out.)

I debated this with a blogger when I was in Beijing several weeks ago, who said the attention would make it impossible for the powers that be to release Hao Wu anytime soon, as they would then lose face for capitulating to public criticism.

I honestly don’t know, but it’s a most interesting question. The decision to publicize Hao Wu’s detention was not impulsive or easy. A lot of bloggers sat on the story until it was agreed that the strategy of silence was leading nowhere. Did we help or hurt? In the face of police state actions by the Chinese security system, what’s the best M.O.? Making a worldwide noise seemed to have led to the release of Liu Di (the Stainless Steel Mouse), while doing little for the likes of Shi Tao and Zhao Yan. I admit, I lean toward the more pro-active side, believing the CCP is sensitive to pressure from the outside (we all saw what happened as SARS ruined China’s image in 2003, forching the government to make things right). Then I look at the Free Hao Wu blog, and I wonder if we didn’t make a mistake. Silence or stridency? A moral dilemma.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

It’s frustrating. The world has moved on and he is left sitting in a cell for doing what? Do you make a fuss or hope that quiet negotation will be more help? All I can say is that the Chinese government seems to take a lot more notice of what Chinese language bloggers are saying. If there was some way of making this an issue in the Chinese blogosphere it might move his case along.

June 24, 2006 @ 2:53 am | Comment

I think silence is never the way to go. This isn’t just about getting people released, it’s also about stopping it happening again. If you say nothing, you let the authorities think they can do as they please. In which case nothing changes. But if you stand up to them then they’ll feel less inclined to do this to more people, even if they can’t release someone like Hao Wu who is already in custody.

June 24, 2006 @ 3:47 am | Comment

I think that they ignore the English Language protest blogs.

May be someone needs to start spamming British Council and AmCham?

If there is anything I can do at all Richard, please let me know.

June 24, 2006 @ 5:36 am | Comment

Richard, I just added a Free Hao Wu Badge to the Best Blog In China Awards. Forum.

I did the Congressman thing last month, and the online petition.

????I’m helpless.

June 24, 2006 @ 5:45 am | Comment

We’re all helpless. And some would argue there’s not a police state in China. Ha. All of those who make such arguments should just ask Hao Wu or Shi Tao.

June 24, 2006 @ 5:55 am | Comment

Ask Amnesty Int’l if silence is the best policy…

June 24, 2006 @ 6:48 am | Comment

Better yet: Ask the Fascist Chinese Capitalist Party if silence is the best thing for you to do…

June 24, 2006 @ 6:58 am | Comment

I think speaking out was the right thing to do. I think it’s important to let the Chinese government know that people are paying attention and that we care. This campaign was done in a dignified, respectful way, with plenty of room for face-saving for the Chinese government. I don’t think it was overly strident.

Richard, I’m really glad that you put up this post – it reminds me that I need to do the same.

June 24, 2006 @ 5:25 pm | Comment

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